With just a week to run before the last “sunny holiday” of the year, it’s time for the two-bit sunburn avoidance reminders.
1. You need to have sunscreen around at all times when outdoors. No doubt about it, excessive UV (and B in particular) increases the odds of melanoma.
2. You may not even have such thoughts cross your mind, but there are a lot of medical conditions where excessive sun is very bad for patient outcomes. Like those awaiting an organ transplant, for example.
3. Not surprisingly, the incidence of sunburn-driven cancers seems to be age related, as well, too.
4. Sunless tanning (beds) may be different than direct, natural-Sun, tanning. But, sunless tanning seems to give people something akin to a false sense of security about tanning, resulting in sun-risky behaviors.
5. There’s new research coming out that suggests that UV-C is not very dangerous after all. UV *(ultraviolet) light comes in multiple “bands” corresponding to different frequencie smeasured by Angstroms. Here’s a story on “Chronic irradiation with 222-nm UVC light induces neither DNA damage nor epidermal lesions in mouse skin, even at high doses.” That’s really good news, IF a) you are a mouse and b) happen to walk around with a solar spectrometer to see which UV you’re OD’ing on.
6. We’ll assume you’re current on the UV-B journal readings and already know that “Ultraviolet B eye irradiation aggravates atopic dermatitis via adrenocorticotropic hormone and NLRP3 inflammasome in NC/Nga mice.”
Time to Go Shopping
There are multiple ways to approach sunburns in advance.
The first is the Clothing strategy group. You ought to know this one: No more than 10-15 minutes of direct sun, wear a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses that are 100% UV blocking, and a long-sleeved shirt. 100% UV blocking and Polaroid lenses are best for driving. Extremely good glare-reduction.
The other is Skin Treatment with the right kind of Sun Block.
We did a search on Amazon to see what the top Sun Blocks were. You will no doubt have your own preferences, but let me roll through a reminder about HOW TO SHOP AMAZON for a product like this.
- The first thing we do is put in the search term we’re looking for. Everything, right pops up, right?
- Next, we go to the box on the upper right (which defaults to Featured) and change it with the drop-down to “Average Customer Review.” Featured near as we can figure it, means the top products are essentially a “digital endcap” display.
- We generally don’t buy anything until there are at least 50, or more reviews, either. Less and its all too-subject to “digital salting” by paid reviewers.
- Last, but not least, we then go through the first page of results and so some quick mental arithmetic: We add the number of 5-star rankings plus the number of 4-star rankings. Then we subtract the number of 1-star rankings.
- We use this approach for almost everything with buy on the ‘Zon and it seems to work very well.
Let’s roll with a search for “SPF 100, waterproof sunblock” shall we?
The first return was an SPF 45 product, so we moved on to the second product, which was Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 100+, 3 fl. oz.
This product had 76% five-stars plus 11% four stars for a subtotal of 87. Minus 5% 1-stars for a total “G score” of 82.
Is a Higher SPF Better?
Yes…and no. Seems to depend on who(m?) you ask. WebMD, a highly-regarded site in terms of street creds, has a great article here pointing out that a lot of medical types go for SPF 30 to 50 and call it good.
On the other hand, a journaled article for the American Academy of Dermatology differs with the WebMD advice somewhat. The paper to read is “SPF 100+ sunscreen is more protective against sunburn than SPF 50+ in actual use: Results of a randomized, double-blind, split-face, natural sunlight exposure clinical trial.”
Won’t catch us with a tan line forehead to chin, no sir!
So, while we could find products that might score higher, the SPF-100 seems a safer bet. Unless, of course, like us you’re already 70-something. In which case, slather on some BBQ sauce and coconut oil and toss for 20-minutes on a side.
The Serious Prepping Part
Lots of people call themselves “preppers” if they keep a few months of toilet paper, a half-dozen cases of chili and beans, and a 55-gallon drum of water.
Well, good…better than nothing, of course…but ONLY for certain kinds of emergencies.
In a REAL catastrophic collapse scenario (mega-quake, massive fire storm, or hard Grid Down) you will be looking at a recovery time measured (if we’re lucky!) in months. Otherwise, it might be years. And you will be outdoors a LOT.
So, when you lay in a supply of sun block for the family, don’t just toss one in the beach bag. Put one in the glove box of each vehicle you own (make sure the cap’s on and any air is squeezed out!) and toss a couple in your long-term prepping cache, too.
Like the cases of gloves, that I told you about recently, there won’t be anywhere to get help or supplies after a calamitous event, so you need to think ahead. Broad-brimmed hats, sun block, mosquito nets…all that kind of stuff.
Listen to the Voice of Experience
I didn’t take sunburn very seriously until 1982 (age 33) when I flew down to the Cayman Islands to interview for a job at their national airline.
Everything had gone splendidly in the interview and to relax afterwards, I put on a pair of Power-Plana’s (flippers if you don’t dive) and kicked-out oover the reef in front of Seven Mile Beach and hung around chasing the purple tangs snorkeling for a couple of hours.
Fortunately, I’d had the (smallest bit of) good sense and I’d put on a tee-shirt. But (here’s the lesson part): Tee-shirts, especially clinging to you – slicked on with salt water – have essentially zero SPF.
That afternoon, back on the beach with a G&T or three at my cousin’s place, my back began to feel uncomfortably warm. I greased up with some Vaseline and was told “I think you have a bad sunburn…”
NSS: An hour later, I felt nausea coming on strong. An hour later trying to sleep, the chills and shakes overtook me.
My cousin recommended a ton of water – dehydration is an issue. I tossed down some aspirin, too. The night from hell.
Next morning, I had blisters on my upper back and shoulders as big as an outstretched hand. A week or two later, they began to flake off and itched like bloody-hell. Clouds of flakes followed me everywhere.
The advice on treating this condition – more properly called Sun Poisoning – is over here on WebMD.
If you have a family doctor who will issue a ‘scrip’ right away, I believe the best possible medication would be triamcynalone ointment. No, I’m not a doctor, but with life-long eczema, this is stuff I trust and that works for me. Ointment is better on burns than the water-based variety, but that’s your doc’s call. And yeah, it will get all over the sheets, so use something old and disapoable…and SOFT!
Living on a sailboat for more than 10-years, I only had the rare sunburn. Never like that one, though. (I am able to learn from my errors, lol).
Sailing in the Pacific Northwest and coast-wise down as far as Mexico, once you’re a mile, or three out, it’s cool enough for a long-sleeve shirt on all but the warmest days fall, winter, and spring. Toss on a big, wide Tilley Endurables LTM6 Airflo Hat,Khaki/Olive,7.75 sun hat, some zinc oxide on the nose and good to go…
User note: If you’re boating with sun a hat, and the wind’s up, be sure to apply the sun strap. I must have “Fed Puget Sound” a half-dozen, or so mighty good hats.
One Last Thing…
When you forget everything I’ve told you so far, hit the “Zon and grab Equate (Compare to Hawaiian) tropic After Sun Cooling Gel Aloe, Lidocaine, and Vitamins A & E 20 Oz which is also at Walmart. Should store several years out of sunlight, we reckon.
Write when you get tan,